Rather scared.

I’m really getting a bit scared by this whole business thing.

It’s not so much of a fear of real risk…

I mean, I’ll admit it, I’ve blown tax refunds in much less productive ways even if this falls flat on its face in a disaster that loses everything put into it… and it’s not like I’ve quit my job to go chase after a business dream, so there really isn’t too much to fear on that front.

And again, worst case scenario, at least it will have given me something to do and keep my busy for a bit as far as efforts if it fails.

I’m ok with having a future memory of "remember that summer you tried to sell wind toys at the craft fair?" as a silly thing I’ve tried if that’s what it ends up being. I’ve tried my hand at much worse jobs… and even successful business people frequently have a few flops under their belt.

And I’m about the worst critic of my painting skills, so I’m not going to be too horribly offended that nobody likes my stuff if it gets rejected.

So… what am I so scared of?

I think when it comes down to it, I’m scared of feeling like my hopes have been let down again.

There is this feeling… "flow" if you will… that comes sometimes when the path is right.

And it’s here for this.

I’m having to reign myself back and keep my balance on feasibility because the ideas are running so fast… maybe by the end of the summer there will have become a huge expanded product line, but feasibly I just can’t get enough made of more than a handful of different directions at once.. but the idea flow is strong…

And pieces just sort of fall into place.

Maybe the best way to explain it is that I’m sitting in the chair waiting for church to start, dreaming of a strategy for simplifying wood spiral production if/when I get my paws on a table saw… and over the course of about 2 seconds my thoughts go "6 ft board, cut in half would give me a 3 foot more manageable chunk to work with… and I could split that into 4 which would make it 9 inch width minus the amount the cut eats up, just a bit longer than the pvc version…"

Then, I suddenly realize.. how in the heck did I just divide 3 foot by 4 pieces and come up with 9 inches? In the course of about 2 seconds without doing the math. And it takes me at least another minute to sort out and figure out whether or not the match that just came out of nowhere was actually right. (It was. Somehow. LOL)

So, that would seem like all signs point towards go, right?

And it does… sort of. I know they do.

But…

The last time I can say that about in a major way.. was the decision to go back to school.

Which of course ended up being a giant waste of time and effort and money.

And hope.

Maybe most importantly, the wasted hope.

And lets not even get into the whole ginormous K mess.

I don’t mind the effort, even if it fails.

I don’t mind the hard work, even if it fails.

I don’t mind risking looking a bit like a flaky artist if it fails… lets face it, I’m opening a business selling spinning birds, flaky artist may well fit even if it doesn’t fail.

But I’m scared of letting my hopes get up on something again… and let my heart get into it… and having the bottom fall out again.

I can handle the effects of a worst case scenario flop… but I’m not entirely sure that I can really handle it emotionally if I let myself chase the dream and the vision turns out to be another mirage.

Even then.. it’s not like I haven’t survived it before. It’s not like I couldn’t make it again if forced to… but it’s just the pain of walking that road again that has me shaking. I’m still honestly not really recovered from either of the last rounds.

I’m terrified of it enough that there’s at least one day per week that I find myself considering just letting it go for this summer… playing around with the stuff for the year… maybe next summer or another year I’ll have enough inventory built up…

But, I know that’s not the way it would work. If that happens, it would be because I’m giving up and backing away.

I know that this is the time. I don’t doubt that.

I’m just having a rough time bracing myself.

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Determining worth

What is something really worth?

This is sort of a hard question for me right now on a practical level with the business… but of course that triggers metaphorical connections.

So..

How much is a windchime or a whirligig worth?

I know for each one roughly how much I paid for the material that is used in it.

But just setting the value as a formula based on that (for example, the cost of parts times 3 that seems to be a common one tossed out for craft fairs)… completely fails to take into account that windchimes are actually pretty cheap, but right now the hardest thing for me to actually make on effort.

Going the other direction and pricing on effort… means that of my two small sized pvc spinners that have different shapes, the ones that are a twisted diamond would be very cheap while the same thing in a star shape would be one of the most expensive products. (You have no clue how many times I’ve just had to burst out laughing as I’ve gotten a point of the star wrong and found myself staring at this random jumble of pipes hanging in the air.)

But, using either of those also totally takes out the factor of the purchaser.

Looking online, several of the websites that sell birds fairly similar to my whilibirds (but on a stake rather than hanging), sell them for $35-$45 bucks.

But, there’s a huge part of me that goes "there is no way in heck I would pay $45 for a painted wood bird with spinners for wings!"

But, then, I’m not to person buying their birds. The person buying their birds is someone who wants a whirligig so much that they are willing to go online and hunt one down and have it shipped to them.

But, really, I’m not the person buying my birds either.

I’m expecting the primary location for sales to be the local farm and art market that is held in the trendy part of town… a bit more of an affluent crowd who are paying extra for local fresh foods… and expecting them to pretty much just be an impulse purchase.

"Oh cool, a windchime in my team’s colors…" "My grandma used to have a whirligig like that…" "I bet my mom would like a windspinner for her patio for mothers day.."

There’s also another farmers market in town, partially sponsored by the county.. that tends to draw more of the smaller places and more of the average consumer.

If I decide to set up out there some weeks.. the price that they are likely to pay is probably a bit less than they would pay at the more serious market (the main market is so serious about things being locally sourced and hand made that they actually do inspections and its in the rules that you will allow them to check out your workshop or farm to verify that the products really are being made by you).

The idea has even been floated around a bit to try and market a bit towards the outdoor wedding crowd as well for outdoor decorations that could be custom made to match wedding colors. The wedding stuff at the bridal shows is astronomically priced!

On the opposite end… even though the local flea market is huge, and I could get a lot of exposure there… generally the crowd is people who are hunting for things cheap and looking for the deal more than they are concerned with the fact that its made by hand locally or has artistic value. So prices would pretty much have to be super low to sell well, and might not really even be worth the effort.

So.. do I flex prices?

Does worth change?

If you buy a chime in the artsy area of town, is it worth more than the same chime on the west side just because of the surroundings?

How in the heck do you even figure how to weigh cost vs effort vs customer price expectations?

It’s hard for me to value the worth of something I’ve made. I’m too critical. But, I also know that as someone who tends more towards practical purchases, I’m probably also a lot more of a cheap shopper than my customers.

But it sort of feels like what something is worth is a concept that is all over the charts!

Looking on etsy and such just makes matters worse. There are wood wind spinners that I see on there, and know that unless they have a much cheaper source of materials than I do, they are likely only making about 5 bucks for several hours of work.

But on the other hand, I see people with chimes on there that are going for about 4 times what I would have thought they were worth looking at materials and likely amount of work.

I’ve chosen not to go the etsy direction right now primarily due to shipping. It’s hard to get the packaging right to make sure theres no risk of damage without also adding quite a bit of costs to the expense category for the larger boxes and gobs of packing peanuts before you even get it out the door. (Shipping may end up happening on custom orders or gifts, but I’m not really ready to fuss with it enough yet to be dealing with regular etsy sales, etc)

But.. if I do decide to expand that direction, does that change everything? If I’m selling something for x dollars at the craft fairs, is it going to make a stir if I price it lower online to compete with other crafters from far away places?

The more and more I get into trying to figure out fair and reasonable yet profitable prices, the more and more I feel like my head just sort of enters this foggy area of wondering what worth really means on anything.

Obviously, in business its a very critical concept. It’s a huge part of staying afloat to get it nailed down.

But man… it gets murky so fast.

Making tools work

Right now, I’m dreaming of a table saw.

Actually, I’m not so much dreaming as planning and checking craigslist multiple times a day.

For the wood spinners, to do it right, you need to rip the wood into long strips and then cut those into shorter lengths.

It looks like it would be easier to just chop across the wood… and it wood, I mean, would…. but going across the grain doesn’t work well.

In my arsenal, I have a circular saw, a jigsaw, and a hole saw attachment for my drill.

I can use the circular saw… but it is seriously time consuming and much more difficult.

So for just a few spinners, it’s reasonable.

But when you are trying to do something in an sort of a scale, it’s just really not the right tool for the job. It will work, but it’s just way more work than is needed.

For another example, cutting the metal rod that runs down the center of the spiral spinners.

I have a pair of bolt cutters with handles about 8 inches long. I have a pair of metal snips. Either one is capable of cutting thin rods.

But… the effort required… is substantial. Multiple attempts, multiple angles, some wiggling, and sore hands.

I surrendered, and bought a good pair of bolt cutters with 24" handles.

It cuts through the same rod like a pair of scissors would. Snip and done.

I could have rented them for half the price, but it’s not like they wouldn’t be needed again later for many more rods.

And if it comes down to it, I can actually rent the table saw too for an afternoon and just attack all of the wood all at once… but again, I’d prefer to track down a decent used one to have on hand rather than have to rent repeatedly every time I needed more wood chopped.

The effort difference between the right tool… and a tool that may still work but isn’t meant for the job… is huge.

There’s just no comparison.

But, again with the analogies.. I kind of feel like I’m attacking a big stack of wood with a tiny saw in life.

It seems like there’s so much that could or should be so much easier… but somehow in my life, it just isn’t.

Maybe I just don’t have the skills, or the resources, or the personality, or even the right goal… or whatever it is that I don’t have.

It just sort of feels like there has to be an easier path somewhere.

There’s got to be some piece that I’m missing somewhere that would make this work…

But I feel like asking for it… pleading for it honestly…or even to know what it is to try and hunt it down myself… just doesn’t get any sort of an answer.

Is life really supposed to be this weary and disappointing?

I know… it could be worse. It has been worse. It’s not like I’m trying to attack the wood pile with a butterknife or something..

But really…

Making parts

Right now, I’ve been mostly making parts.

With trying to work on production of many items vs just a single craft project, it’s easiest to approach it this way.

So, I have dishpans full of pvc pipes that have been cut… and of ones that have had the holes drilled in them… and of ones that have been sanded… and dishpans of the hardware…

I’ve thought about getting a bunch of ziplock bags and basically making wind spinner kits, as that’s sort of the effect.

But as far as spiral spinners… only 4 of them have actually been made so far.

I’ve taken to calling them prototypes… as it’s essentially what they are. They were the original attempts to get the kinks out of the process and fine tune the end result. They’ve been used to compare different options as far as what’s going to work best for catching the wind, etc…

But, there’s still only 4 of them.

But… I have lots and lots of parts.

Ready to be assembled… but, no real reason to focus on doing so just yet. I have the paint ready, but it’s a lot easier to set up and paint a bunch of them in one day than to set up painting each one at a different time.

So they are ready and waiting in the wings as parts… just waiting for their time to be ready to go.

It’s also a lot easier to store parts than it is to store assembled and painted wind spinners.

There will be a day soon that I will need to focus on getting them all assembled and painted, but that’s not just yet.

So right now, parts they are.

As I focus on adding more parts to my piles for other items.

If you just look at numbers, it would look like I’m not getting far.

But, actually, I’m at a place that if you wanted a "naked" unpainted pvc spiral spinner, I could hand you an assembled one in less than 15 minutes.

It’s there… just not yet there.

And so, of course… there’s always gotta be a metaphor… lol

Parts production feels like what life is.

Just as the bulk of the time is spent making parts repetitively, it feels like life is also just sort of plugging along, building and building…

But I guess I wonder if there is ever a point when I get to see life’s spinner get assembled.

Things like the school attempt… like the job development… they go on and on for years… making parts and making parts…

But are they ever going to give me a product for the work?

I really don’t think so right now with their of those examples.

Maybe they helped some with skills in production that will be used in making some future part…

But I sort of feel like repetitively making parts that will never be a whole is sort of the direction of life in general.

I don’t mind the work in parts.

But sometimes the end product being in sight is needed to produce the motivation when it just looks like a big pile of pvc chunks in your lap.

Team ha-ha

So why the secret?

Well, honestly… I just don’t feel like fighting.

One thing that I’ve noticed both with the attempt at returning to school and in the relationship with K is how many of my "support" people aren’t actually cheering for me.

They don’t wish me well when they disagee or don’t take their advice as golden… nor do they hold any respect for my decisions or feelings at all really.

Basically, a lot of them just seem to be waiting to be able to say they told me so and I should have done it their way.

It’s not a team of cheerleaders… it’s a team holding popcorn and hoping for a show.

I just don’t feel like dealing with it.

If they aren’t going to be of any support to me anyway, why even bother telling them when I know it’s just going to frustrate me when they poke holes and try and prove it’s an awful idea rather than being supportive or helpful?

Silence is far better than what in some cases pretty much boils down to mocking or bullying.

And so, I find it that when I’m talking to a random home depot staff member who decided to make sure I knew I was buying different diameters of metal conduit that wouldn’t connect…. I’m more than happy to tell him that I’m turning them into windchimes and tell him about what I’m trying to do.

The people who are closer to me, well, not so much.

My mom and daughter know to some extent… but I quickly reached the realization with my mom that she doesn’t have the same vision, and stopped the conversation any more than needed.

For example: I’d purchased a cheap dollar store wind toy that I knew I could make of aluminum and paint it pretty and make an awesome variation inspired by it to sell as an eventual product. I showed it to her, and she kept pushing that I should just buy the dollar store items and try and pass them off as mine, or just go sell them at the flea market at a profit where they don’t care where they came from.

Buying cheap junk made in china and hawking it to people looking for cheap junk is not anywhere close to my goal here. At all. I could work at walmart again or even at the dollar store and have a much less stressful and more stable job doing that.

So it’s just pointless to try and push vision on someone who doesn’t get it and doesn’t see it just to then hope for support for it.

So she knows the idea and has several prototypes of various items hanging around her porch, but its just easier to keep her out of the loop on all of the efforts and investments and details of what I’m doing and where I’m aiming.

In contrast, my former stepdad does know a bit more, because I did want to make sure he was on board just in case the jerk neighbor flared up and complained about windchimes chiming while I was testing versions and such. Even when in the past he has been one of the least supportive people in my life… and surprisingly, he actually was pretty impressed with what he saw. So he was told a bit more about the vision, the target audience, the ideas of directions on future items and of a couple more major items I need to invest in.

It’s just sort of a weird flip that I’m more comfortable sharing vision with people the more further away from me they are.

I just don’t feel like fighting and defending.

Especially when I’m intentionally going with a whimsical name for purposes of being easily remembered and giving a playful tone…. rather than something that people will forget just as soon as they turn around but that would sound more like a boring professional name. People who don’t know me smile… and yes, even the hardware store clerk remembered it the next time I was in… but somehow I get the feeling there will be eyerolls from those closer that I just don’t even feel like putting up with anymore.

So I guess it sort of comes down to knowing that there isn’t likely to be a cheerleader’s ra-ra, but at least I don’t have to listen to the mocker’s ha-ha.

The big secret

It’s kind of been hinted at a bit in some of the older posts… but I guess it’s getting to be time to announce my big secret.

I have decided, as a "side hustle" as you will, to attempt a creative venture.

In an attempt to develop more into the creative realm and reduce the frustration both financially and with the place my life is at career-wise.

To be specific… I’ve decided to use my tax return for this year to start a business creating non-fabric wind decorations and selling them locally.

Right now, it’s looking like the main products at opening are going to be whirligig style birds with spinning wings, spiral style wind spinners made of pvc and/or wood, rotating pvc shapes in star and diamond varieties, and wind chimes if I get get the hole saw to actually cooperate with me.

Lots of other possibilities loom on the horizon, but I’m trying to keep it reasonable for a start.

Where in the world did this come from???

Good question.

It actually came out of some random craft project that I was playing around with.

I decided to make one for my mom’s porch as well.

Pics were shared… interest developed… I started messing with the pvc and started getting questions about selling them…

Decision was made to give it a whirl (yes, pun intended) on a pipe dream (yes, still intended), and to see what happens.

Well, it was then decided to look towards getting a booth set up at the main local farm and handmade craft market that runs spring to fall…

Which requires handing a current state sales tax number to collect sales tax…

Which requires registering with the federal government to get another number for them…

And suddenly I find myself sitting here as an official sole proprietor of a legally registered business… complete with a name, contracts, banking accounts and a point of sale and accounting system, a registered website, social media accounts, the whole 9 yards..

And a May 7th launch date.

Yes. I am certifiably crazy.

(And have you ever dug through the insane paperwork to register a business? And I’m a fairly smart college-educated person. How in the world do some of these people I deal with at work who can’t follow instructions on a simple form actually manage to get through this? Let alone those with real challenges, like language barriers and limited access to web information… )

The jerk neighbor

It was the weekend before christmas.

I had a total of 3 days off between Thanksgiving day and Christmas day this year.

Life was crazy, I was tired…

And I forgot about trash day.

Ok, whatever… they would get it the next week.

Before the next trash pickup day comes around, my neighbor yells at me across their yard as I’m getting home… “When are you going to pick up the trash lazy b****?”

Now, I know it’s been ranted about here multiple times that this neighbor is a jerk. He’s the one who called the cops for a noise complaint when I was trying to wrestle a kid throwing a fit into the house at 10:30 at night. The one who kills off about a foot of my yard every year so that my type of grass doesn’t spread into his. He’s the type of guy that when a kid asks him if she can get her ball that landed in his backyard and he obviously heard her, he turns around and walks into the house and completely ignores her…. and when her grandparents give her permission to go in the fence and get it, then puts locks and big no trespassing signs on the gates the next day.

So… my best response to the yelling was to ignore it.

I get yelled at again… and I continue into the house… and in a seriously annoyed response, flipped them off over my shoulder as I left.

And so… apparently having nothing better to do… the neighbor called the local tv station’s “on your side” news team to complain about me.

You would think there are a lot bigger news stories to be covering, but apparently not on the weekend before christmas.

Yes, they actually came out on a saturday (which I had to work)… and they showed on the news that I had 8 bags of trash along the fence waiting for the trash man.

Yes, they counted them… 8 white kitchen sized bags of trash made it on the news… even when a good number of them were only half full (cat litter is heavy, etc).

They made a big fuss about how I’m just lazy…
that my grass was overgrown all summer…
that they have tried to to talk to me about it by i just flip them off (yeah, i guess they consider yelling across the yard calling me a lazy b to be talking?)
that they call every two weeks and complain about me but i never get fined, so they want to petition the city council to change the laws so that people get fined for having three complaints no matter what… That there are all sorts of mice and raccoons and possums because of trash…

Now, not a single bag was torn or open… the video showed that… so its not like its just my word against his that there are no raccoons and possums etc around here, and the last time I saw a mouse, has been over 5 years ago.

And yes, my grass ran a bit tall this year.. amazing how that happens when you have knee surgery in may and dont have high enough income to hire out lawn services at $160 a month or more (yes, I’d looked…. what happened to all of the teen boys who used to mow lawns for cheap just for summer spending money?).

But of course that knee surgery or anything else never came up… I’m just lazy.

But… as he said…. there has never been anything that in his many complaints has been cause for them to fine me.

He point blank said that he calls on my every two weeks… and that a lot of times when he calls later they don’t even have a complaint on file…. and the city offices confirmed for the report that they’ve had complaints and that not once has there actually been a reason to fine me about anything that he has called about.

It’s sort of odd after all of these years of telling people my neighbor is a jerk to me…. to now actually have real recorded proof of him bragging about being a jerk to me.

And, overall, most of the tv station’s website comments were in my favor… even when the next day, they made it their “question of the day” on if people should be fined for having three complaints regardless of outcome of them.

A few people made comments about any trash at all outside being nasty… so I guess they keep their weekly trash in their houses all week and prefer to have nastiness inside?

But most said that they saw nothing wrong with the house in the story…. or told stories about houses in their neighborhoods who had actual real problems… or said that if their neighbor had trash for more than a week they would have just put the bags with their own on trash day.

I even got a letter from some of the neighbors across the street and down a bit, telling me not to worry about it, that he would have problems with anyone living next to him, and that the other side of the block has my back. lol

But… still.

I have to admit, I spent the better part of my one day off the next day curled in a ball, going back and forth between crying and wishing for revenge.

I know that I do my best.

Yeah, sometimes things like forgetting the stupid trash day is that morning happen….

But I do the best that I can under my life.

But, even so… having someone launching a campaign that you are such a horrible neighbor that you should be fined even when you haven’t been found to be in violation of any rules… it takes a beating on you.

What total jerks.

Now that it’s spring, I’ve been outside a lot more working on some big projects that are in the works that I need to do outside.

And it honestly bothers me some.

I wish it didn’t… but it does… even when I’m just sitting on my own porch working on sanding or painting.

It’s my yard. My domain. I have a right to be there, and to use it.

But it sort of feels like even being in sight opens me up to attack.

Sometimes… people just suck.